Cash-strapped Asia Television was dealt another financial blow on Friday after it was slapped with a HK$380,000 fine at Sha Tin Court. ATV vice-president Lau Lan-cheong pleaded guilty on behalf of the station to 38 summonses that accused the broadcaster of failing to pay its staff salaries totalling HK$336,756. The salaries were for 15 employees, including show editors and engineers, who did not receive their pay in full during the period between late July and November. All the salaries were paid before the end of last month. In mitigation, Lau insisted he would plead to the court instead of hiring a lawyer because it was a more "pragmatic" approach. He told the magistrate that this would save the broadcaster some money. He said the financial problems of the 57-year-old broadcaster arose when investors suddenly decided not to contribute to salaries. "The investors said they had finished their historical mission," he told Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung. He said the station's 600 employees were now the ones who had been doing their best to solve the salary issue, including by auctioning farmland and rolling out budget advertisement plans. ATV usually requires HK$15 million per month to pay staff salaries, he told the court. Lau said the management had already agreed to pay lower-level staff first, and asked for more time to pay the fine as the station would have to pay its licence fee as well as a total of HK$300,000 in penalties from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority. But the magistrate said ATV was an established company and it should have foreseen those measures. He ordered the station to pay HK$10,000 within a month for every summons. Meanwhile, journalists at the English News Department accepted a second settlement offer from the company last night over unpaid wages, after rejecting an initial offer. The editorial team of 11 had threatened to stop broadcasting if their salaries for December and January were not paid by yesterday. Yonden Lhatoo, editor-in-chief of news and public affairs at ATV World, said he was surprised by the second offer as he didn't see the settlement coming. He did not reveal the details of it. The reporters had intended to quit after the station could not meet their demands, but decided to delay that after the new offer. "If you fight for your rights, people will respond," he said. But Lhatoo said he would resign as he could not accept what was going on at the broadcaster.